Many retailers are terrified of turning into a showroom. They fear consumers will come only to test out the products they’ll later buy online.
Many stores, including Restoration Hardware’s rival Pottery Barn, fought showrooming by “rushing to lower prices,” Solsman writes.
But Restoration Hardware decreased its number of physical stores and used the remaining ones as showrooms. Sofas, tables, rugs and other decor were meticulously arranged with an emphasis on the aesthetic. Customers could find even more merchandise online or in catalogues while shopping in the stores.
The tactic is working. Direct-to-consumer now makes up half of Restoration Hardware’s business, and the retailer has reported double-digit sales growth for 10 quarters, according to Solsman.
“Furniture and decor, unlike consumer electronics and other items, aren’t easily searchable by specifications,” Solsman writes. “A highly fragmented market, home furnishings sellers benefit from many players having proprietary merchandise, which stunts online competitive threats.”
Typically, when we think of hacks, our minds conjure images of compromised security systems, personal computers or server farms, but printers? According to Neil Smith, a researcher from the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team, unauthorized access to those devices could be a very real threat — if you happen to own a Samsung model. Discovered and submitted to the agency this past Monday, the exploit unearthed by Smith takes advantage of an “SNMP backdoor” : an internet protocol that allows for remote network administrative control without authentication. The vulnerability — which would give hackers access to data sent to the printer, as well as control over it (think: ceaseless printing!) — affects most units released before November of this year. For its part, Samsung’s promised a patch will be forthcoming. But, in the meantime, if you want to avoid exposing any personal data or the possibility of a seemingly possessed printer, it’s best you steer clear of rogue WiFi connections.
The CFTC is suing popular betting site Intrade. And now Intrade is telling its customers to start shutting down their accounts.
ATTENTION U.S. CUSTOMERS – IMPORTANT!
We are sorry to announce that due to legal and regulatory pressures, Intrade can no longer allow US residents to participate in our real-money prediction markets.
Unfortunately this means that all US residents must begin the process of closing down their Intrade accounts. We strongly urge you to begin this process immediately:
Step 1: Close out open predictions
You must close out all open predictions before 8:00am GMT (3:00am ET) on December 23, 2012. Instructions on how to close out an open prediction can be found HERE.
If this is not done then by the deadline noted above, Intrade will close out your predictions for you at what we consider to be fair market value as of the daily session close of December 23, 2012.
Fair market value will be determined using current and historical price information, including daily close prices and recent trades. Values will be set at the absolute discretion of Intrade and will not be open for review, discussion or argument – our determination of fair market value is final.
Step 2: Withdraw funds
Please note, no customers will be charged the $4.99 monthly fee due on December 1, 2012.
Members have until December 31, 2012, to withdraw all funds from their account. Instructions on how to request a withdrawal can be found HERE.
To h! elp you receive your funds as quickly and easily as possible, the $20 fee normally charged by Intrade for processing a bank wire withdrawal will be waived. Please be aware however that any fees charged by the sending and receiving bank, plus any intermediary bank the transfer is routed through will NOT be refunded by Intrade.
We understand this announcement may come as a surprise and a disappointment to our US customers, but this in no way signals the end of Intrade in the US. In the near future we’ll announce plans for a new exchange model that will allow legal participation from all jurisdictions – including the US. We believe this new model will further enhance Intrade position as the leading prediction market platform for real time probabilities about future events. We would like to sincerely thank our US customers for their custom, support and loyalty over the years.
For our non-US customers, we will continue to offer real-money prediction markets. In the coming weeks and months we plan to implement a number of improvements to the Intrade website. These include expanding our market categories to include sports, adding more convenient funding options and a new and improved trading interface. We’ll keep you posted on these initiatives as they develop.
This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at November 26, 2012 20:53:16 UTC
To protect yourself from identity theft never give out your Intrade login or password.
The remarkable forecasting skills of the Troika and the immense decisions being taken on the back of these ‘sacrosanct’ projections need to be put into context. We are more than happy to do that… as the chart below shows, so far so bad as the Troika has pretty much nailed it on the ‘most optimistic mean-reverting model’ ever. Not wanting to steal the jam from Europe’s donut but the forecasts are – quite evidently – a complete and utter joke. Going forward though, we are sure it’s different this time…
There probably is no “right way” to start a company.
But, if there WAS a picture-perfect, fool-proof method, it might look like Percolate.
Percolate, a SaaS solution for marketing managers, was founded by James Gross and Noah Brier in early 2011. Today it raised a $9 million Series A round and it has more than 30 Fortune 500 companies as clients. They’re each paying Percolate about $10,000 per month.
There are a few things Gross and Brier did in their startup’s earliest days that set them up for success.
- They each worked for marketing companies before founding Percolate.
- When they had enough knowledge and industry connections, they quit.
- They bootstrapped until they proved their model.
- The used outside capital to step on the gas.
Gross was a former sales executive for Federated Media and Brier worked for a marketing agency, The Barbarian Group. While they were there, they created a lot of contacts in the marketing and advertising departments of major corporations. They were also able to see inefficiencies and demands in the industry. Later, while the two were bootstrapping Percolate, everything they absorbed at Federated Media and TBG became very valuable.
Being employed also enabled the pair to save up money and bootstrap. They funded their startup themselves for one year, during which Brier ! and Gros s worked out initial kinks.
When they finally had a working model and paying clients, they sought outside capital. They used a $1.5 million seed round to accelerate growth; they didn’t waste it stumbling around and pivoting.
Of course, a lot of successful companies have been founded other ways. Zuckerberg never had a job before founding Facebook. Ben Silbermann initially set out to be a doctor, but he ended up founding Pinterest
It’s too early to guarantee Percolate’s success. But whatever Gross and Brier have done up until now, it seems to be working.
SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum has an incentive to disparage his rivals — but nontheless he made a strong argument as to why Coke and Pepsi are “antiquated” and “insane.”
Some unusual candor in an interview with WSJ’s Simon Zekaria:
“Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo will have to face the reality that their business model cannot be preserved forever. The world is changing and we’re going to call it out,” says the CEO of SodaStream.
“If the beverage industry had to create itself now from scratch, it wouldn’t do it the way it is. You don’t need factories, trucks, bottles and cans,” he says. “Transportation for carbonated drinks in the world utilizes 100 million barrels of oil every year. That is 20 times the BP disaster that hit the Gulf of Mexico.”
“I think it is criminal that the industry, led by two big companies, will do anything to protect their antiquated business model. They are generating 35 million bottles and cans every single day in the U.K. alone. World-wide it is one billion bottles and cans, most of which just go to trash, landfill, the oceans or parks. It’s insane,” Mr. Birnbaum added.
Now that he mentions it, that does seem wildly inefficient.
Of course, inefficient companies can last a long time thanks to all of that infrastructure in place. And if the industry is disrupted by a new company, there’s no guarantee that company will be SodaStream (which is one of the most shorted stocks on the market).
Don’t miss: The Complete HIstory Of Sodastream >
On March 26, 2012, a new media startup called Upworthy launched.
Today, it is the fastest growing media company in the world. Upworthy finished October with 7 million monthly uniques, up from 6 million the month prior. In August, it hit four million uniques, up from 2.5 million in July. Its fast growth was rewarded with $4 million from investors.
There are lots of media companies out there, but none have grown that quickly.
Are Upworthy’s growth and business model sustainable? We’re not sure, but either way the stats are impressive. We asked CEO and co-founder Eli Pariser what Upworthy has been doing to smash traffic records every month.
Here’s what he had to say.
Don’t write about politics.
Before he started Upworthy, Pariser worked for a digital, political publication, MoveOn. He and his co-founder, The Onion’s former Managing Editor, Peter Koechley, thought the upcoming election would drive traffic to Upworthy.
But people weren’t sharing much of Upworthy’s political content, so the pair ditched that angle and broadened the site’s coverage.
“We thought, ‘Ok, it’s an election year, people are going to be really interested in politics and the campaign, and we’ll get a leg up that way,'” Pariser says. “The election was our whole argument for starting Upworthy this year. But it turned out to be a total non-driver of growth. Of all our top pieces, only a couple deal with politics or the election.”
It can be tough for startups to let go of initial ideas and pivot to what’s working. But as soon as Pariser let go of! the pol itics angle, traffic soared.
Find story ideas on social media feeds, not other websites.
Upworthy’s curators don’t start their days surfing other websites for news. They surf social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook instead.
Sometimes it’s easier to highlight a conversation than to start a new one.
“We have our team of curators spending all their time looking on the Internet for stuff,” says Pariser. “We go for visible, sharable stories and really stay away from doing more typical, text-driven articles and blogging. We lean into images and videos.”
Focus on Facebook, not Twitter
Upworthy has found that Twitter is small traffic potatoes compared to Facebook. At the end of the day, Facebook is where the most people spend the vast majority of their time online.
“Facebook is a huge piece of the puzzle for us,” says Pariser. “Our Facebook community has grown from zero in March to over 600,000 likes.”
Pariser says Upworthy hasn’t done anything particularly brilliant to juice Facebook for traffic. It just spent a lot of time and energy cracking the social network.
“Honestly, I think part of [our success with it] is we take Facebook much more seriously than many of the other social networks,” he says. “I love Twitter, and Twitter is a fun place to hang out with smart people, but it’s a small fraction of our traffic compared to Facebook. The time and attention most sites spend on [perfecting] their homepages is probably what we spend on Facebook. If you look at our homepage, it’s pretty mediocre.”
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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